3 Insights That Turned My Hobby Into a Lucrative Side Hustle

3 Insights That Turned My Hobby Into A Lucrative Side Hustle

My poker journey started three summers ago.

I was stuck in a boring internship, and every day time stood still. In an effort to pass the boredom, I downloaded a poker audio book.

I had played small poker games with my college roommates for fun, but I always got wrecked.

After finishing the audio book, I read every other poker book that I could get my hands on. However, my results were still flat.

That changed when I got the Upswing Lab training course.

I had just won a few hundred dollars in a $1/$2 game, a win of epic proportions for my past self, and decided to invest in a six-month subscription to Upswing’s most popular course.

After spending just a few hours in the Lab, a lightbulb went off in my head. The game started to make way more sense.

A year and a half later I’m winning at stakes as high as $5/$10 live and $2/$4 online.

The following three insights did wonders for my game and allowed me to quickly rise up the cash game ranks.

If you want to upgrade your poker skills, use coupon code POKER50 to get $50 off the Upswing Lab today. Learn more now!

Code expires this Friday (June 26th) at midnight
Code expires this Friday (June 26th) at midnight

1. Your Game Needs to Start With a Solid and Consistent Pre-flop Strategy

My pre-flop strategy used to be all over the place.

I had heard that I was supposed to play aggressively, but I took that way too far. Looking back, I played like a maniac. I opened and 3-bet way too many hands, and that led to many showdowns where I held the second best hand.

The Upswing Lab’s 439 pre-flop charts made it easy for me to plug this leak. There are ranges for online cash games, live cash games, and tournaments, so I always had a solid baseline strategy no matter what I was playing.

The Advanced Solver Ranges in the Upswing Lab
The Advanced Solver Ranges in the Upswing Lab

A recent addition to the Lab is the Advanced Solver Ranges, which are GTO-influenced charts created by online cash game crusher Fried “mynameiskarl” Meulders. Solver-generated ranges like these typically cost hundreds of dollars to buy, but they are included for free with an Upswing Lab membership.

Having exclusive access to charts like this takes all of the guesswork out of pre-flop play. When you play with them, you can be confident that you are playing like a seasoned pro pre-flop, which will help you avoid tough post-flop spots and, ultimately, win more money.

2. Building a Bankroll Takes Dedication, Discipline, and a Few Strategic Adjustments

The Lab has a 4+ hour lesson (created by Doug Polk) dedicated entirely to growing a small bankroll playing micro/small stakes games.

Cover Art from Doug’s Micro Stakes Bankroll Building lesson, which is one of 75 in-depth lessons in the Lab.
Cover Art from Doug’s Micro Stakes Bankroll Building lesson, which is one of 75 in-depth lessons in the Lab.

One of the strategic takeaways from the lesson has to do with the fact that players at micro/small stakes have a tendency of over-calling and under-bluffing. This leads to a few main adjustments that you should implement when playing versus micro stakes players:

  • 1. Reduce your bluffing frequency
  • 2. Go for thin value as often as you can
  • 3. Use large bet sizes to build bigger pots
  • 4. Be very cautious when facing aggression

Keep in mind that these adjustments won’t be appropriate versus 100% of players. However, when you are looking to build a bankroll playing smaller stakes, you will come across many players who fall into the over-call/under-bluff camp.

Making the adjustments listed above drastically improved my ability to exploit weak players and rise through the stakes. Give them a try in your next session!

3. How to Overbet Like a Pro

Once you have made it through the “Core” lessons in the Lab, you are met with an extensive list of lessons that hone in on advanced poker concepts. One that I found most useful was the Overbets lesson.

Overbetting is a powerful play that allows you to extract max value with your best hands while simultaneously applying max pressure with your bluffs.

The lesson is super in-depth with dozens of example hands, so it will be tough for me to boil it down to a few key points. With that said, here are three prime situations for overbetting:

  • When there are three cards to a flush on the board.
    Consider overbetting on these boards when you have the nut flush for value or when you have the ace of that suit as a bluff.
    Example: J752Q with A6 or AK.
  • When there are three cards to a straight on the board.
    You can overbet with straights for value or when you have a pocket pair that blocks the straight as a bluff.
    Example: 65K108 with 97 or 77.
  • When your range contains many more super strong hands than your opponent’s range.
    Using overbets when you have the nut advantage will allow you to bluff frequently and make your opponent’s life very difficult.
    Example: QJ1064 after you raised pre-flop from the cutoff and your opponent just called on the button. You can have AxKx, QxQx and potentially other strong hands on this board that most opponents will never have (because they didn’t 3-bet pre-flop).

By effectively incorporating overbets in these spots, you will put your opponents into very difficult spots where they will inevitably make mistakes.


If there is one thing that I have learned so far in my poker journey, it’s this: the more you know about poker, the more you realize how much you have to learn.

And that’s why the Upswing Lab was perfect for me.

The early lessons are structured in a way that simplifies poker to a basic system that is easy to understand and implement. But as you get further into the Lab, the advanced lessons go into unbelievable detail about advanced strategies that will teach you how to think about poker like a high stakes crusher.

Before saying goodbye, I want to share a quote from Upswing founder Doug Polk after he finished his $100 to $10,000 bankroll challenge:

“The number one most important thing is to keep your head down and make sure you realize that no matter how high the highs are, and no matter how low the lows are, playing good poker is what makes money. Period.

You play great poker and you learn. That is how you will end up succeeding.”

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Good luck at the tables.

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Patrick Harvey

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